Doctrine, Debates, and Salvation. Will the real Christian please stand?

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9


There has been heaviness for me this week, and it has wiped my writing mojo. But I have been thinking about a lot of spiritual stuff, and on a whim, I posted this on my Facebook status:

img_4014-1I have learned a lot these past 5 years. My spiritual beliefs have gone through the ringer as I re-evaluate what I believe and sift out the “teachings of men.” Christians have many differing opinions about doctrines. My salvation is not based on if I agree with you on Young Earth Creationism, pretribulation, Calvinism, Male Headship. Your salvation is not based on these highly controversial subjects, either.

We seem to lose the Gospel message when we get caught up in debates and abandon the people around us. I am Christian because I love Christ. I believe He gave me life through His death and resurrection. It is by His grace that I am His. If you believe in the essentials of the faith, you are my brother or sister in Christ. Period!

Am I the only one who is tired of all the drama about these issues? Just stop, already. Look around you, there are people in your midst who are hurting and need someone to be like Christ to them in a real and meaningful way as they maneuver through difficult waters.

This week, I have dealt with three cases of domestic violence, a shattered family, pedophile’s wife, a lawsuit, spiritual abuse, mental health issues, etc. People need Christ. They don’t need Calvin, pretribulation, male headship. They need Christ. I’m so sick of the doctrinal distractions. What matters?



30 thoughts on “Doctrine, Debates, and Salvation. Will the real Christian please stand?”

  1. You have put in print what matters Julie Anne. Also, you have truthfully stated what doesn’t matter. I have been sick of doctrinal platforms for years. Those who continue to make these platforms the main issue are like magicians with the ‘slight of hand’ trick. Their goal is to keep us looking in the wrong direction while they are carrying out misdeeds in another direction.

    The result of their misdeeds is what you state regarding all the terrible traumas that people are trying to rise above in your last paragraph. Each person needs Chirst, individually and in community.

    The late Gordon Cosby told a young pastor, whe asked what really matters, “Remember, everyone sits by a pool of tears”. Your friends at SSB quietly sit with you today, by our own pools and by yours with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie Anne

    Amen – Jesus matters

    With all this junk WE, His Sheep,
    have to put up with in – Christian-dumb…

    Just give me – {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} – Name above ALL Names…

    There’s Just Something About That Name – {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen!

    This post reminds me of an old blues song from the 20s by Washington Phillips. Called Denomination Blues. Where he points out some of the shibboleths of various denominations, but always follows with “But you better have Jesus, I tell you that’s all.”

    As long as preachers continue to preach man’s rules above the love of Jesus, church attendance will continue to decline. As well as it should.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been privileged to be part of an occasional gathering of people centered around Jesus. The audience has included people of other faiths, the organizers and speakers are Christians from across the board (Catholic, Charismatic (and not), Universalist, Evangelical & main line, Scholars, normal people).

    Number of fights over theology: 0 (there are probably some emails but they don’t share those)

    Why? Nobody is there to promote their particular version of faith, they are there to talk and learn about Jesus and practice following him. When there was a concern about inadvertent deference to white speakers (with regards to speaking times), the organizers asked for forgiveness rather than to justify their actions.

    The days of the gathering are refreshing for this reason. I don’t believe it’s a utopia where there are no other agendas, they are just not front and center issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If we believe we are forgiven of our sins and reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, that is what makes us a Christian! 🙂 We will love our neighbor as ourselves, and people will know we are Christians by our love (compassion) for one another.

    Of my Christian relatives and friends, we all have various views on a lot of biblical and cultural subjects. We do not stress out about that stuff. None of us knows everything and we are all on a journey in this life. My own understanding and beliefs have changed on a number of things over the years.

    Real Christians can be recognized because they love the Lord Jesus, and their kindness and integrity shines through in their day to day life…not because they agree on everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t have a problem with debates and I don’t have a problem with fundamentals, but I think that too many people make their “shibboleths” (thanks Donnie!) something to divide themselves from others.

    That’s one of the reasons I appreciate SSB – I think we can talk about our particular flavors with the understanding that disagreeing on those specifics doesn’t absolve us from our mission of love, grace and fighting wolves.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark, I don’t have a problem with debates and doctrine, either, except when they become idols and people get lost in the shuffle. If people are getting taken down or relationships severed, something is messed up.


  8. My husband and I have been discussing this very issue. I stopped going to church almost a year ago and I think he’s been out about six months. As the fog has slowly cleared we are both beginning to realize that our very early days as Christians were more fruitful before we started attending the institutional church. Personally, I wanted to follow Jesus and share his love with others because I was so amazed by God’s love and grace. When I started to go to church I started to feel as though I was unworthy of either of these desires. I was young, divorced, uneducated, and a broken single mom. There just was no place for me in the Body of Christ. I have spent decades trying to “measure up” but there is always a new standard/doctrine out there that makes it impossible to please or confindently approach their “god.” Some how, God has helped both my husband and myself and kept us from giving up on Him.
    I don’t understand why some leaders even bother to preach, “come as you are,” and in the very next breath begin to give you the lengthy list of do’s and don’ts if you want to be part of their group. It’s exhausting.
    I’m praying that God will give you rest while you serve others, Julie Anne. Thank you for being willing to help carry the burden of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If it’s not an issue central to the gospel, then I don’t think it’s worth arguing over (except in cases of friendly, respectful discourse).

    That last bit is key. I will argue all day about any random subject, unless someone is incapable of arguing in good faith or without anger. There are some subjects where I cannot respect a position not matter how nicely argued of course, but those are serious moral questions. I think much of the problem is that many people have elevated minor doctrinal differences to serious moral level and are thus unwilling to listen or even think deeply on a subject.


  10. I hope I don’t sound like a web blanket by saying this, but the notion that loving Christ should enough has already been hijacked. Christians who obsess over doctrines would say, of course Christ alone should be sufficient. But how do you get to know Christ? Doctrines! Without a biblical solid foundation, you can’t know Christ! (Insert other cliches and platitudes).

    But the stark difference between Julie Anne and John MacArthur is this: MacArthur advocates “Christ alone” to be exclusive while you do that to be inclusive.

    People will attack you for watering down the gospel. I’d say non-essentials water down the gospel, and living out the love of Christ does the exact opposite.


  11. But how do you get to know Christ? Doctrines!

    The problem, to me, is that we all have the same bible. When we talk ‘doctrine’ what we are talking about is what it means.

    It is arrogance to say we KNOW what it means much of the time. We are doing our best and people with knowledge and love can come to difference conclusions. It is not recognizing that that is a problem.


  12. Yes, tired of the debates and the categorizing who’s “in” and who’s “out” or who’s got it right and who’s got it wrong and then finding our identity in those beliefs instead of in Christ and resting in what He’s done for us already.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. @David C
    “People will attack you for watering down the gospel. I’d say non-essentials water down the gospel, and living out the love of Christ does the exact opposite.”

    I would go so far as to say that often, non-essentials don’t just water down the gospel, they poison it!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Not sure what happened, but fully aware that just one or two emails or blog comments can wipe you out for several days. An extended exchange on some of these subjects is especially draining… Love the work you do here.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Who’s ‘in Christ’?

    “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
    (from 1 John 4:16)


  16. When we moved back to my very southern hometown, I noticed two things, the Bible was often used as a weapon to hurt those who are “different” or the Bible was seen as an idol. What is with this idea that marriage is a reflection of God’s word and every marriage must look the same?
    What is this concept of a gospel marriage? It is difficult enough for newlyweds to learn to compromise and learn each other’s “love language”, without the pressure of thinking your marriage is suppose to reflect God. Authentic relationships become role-playing in order to fit into a man-made idea of what marriage looks like to outsiders.
    Thank God that there are places like this blog that encourages the love of Christ over correct doctrine.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. @Ann says

    Authentic relationships become role-playing in order to fit into a man-made idea of what marriage looks like to outsiders.


    It does not apply only to marriage. Going into a church, I always had the same butterflies in my stomach that I had when I put on a mask to get into my character before stepping on a stage. It was all about performance to please men. Meeting in a small group for accountability made me feel the same. When the Bible says to put aside the old nature and put on the new in Christ, this kind of performance oriented religiosity is what God had in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Here is a story about a California missing woman who disappeared of her own volition. She survived for weeks in an open field after crashing her car in scorching heat before searchers found her. She hunkered down and hid from searchers because she did not want to be found.

    According to Tull’s father, she has bipolar disorder. He says she had not taken her medication for about six months because a pastor and his wife told her that pills lead to demons.

    link to story


  19. Yes, one argument I’ve had in my old church is over being conformed to the image of Christ. My argument is that I become more Mark everyday as I’m conformed to the image of Christ, not more conformed to what the church wants me to be or conformed to some personalityless idealistic person.

    C.S. Lewis said something to that effect – that evil people are more copies of each other, while the truly godly are more amazing and unique.

    This verse stood out to me because it was against my church tradition: “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4). I don’t think it’s the prosperity gospel. Money is a vehicle to what we truly desire – the means, not the ends. I think each person has unique desires and that as we become more Christlike, God works through those desires to bring about amazing things in us and in those we touch. I now get to recover from a background where the mere thought of having our own will was so antagonistic to the gospel that we were trained to suppress ourselves so we could be a blank page for “God’s” (i.e. the church leaders’) desires.


  20. Mark, that’s sort of the opposite of Tolstoy’s “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”


  21. Julie Anne, this is why “Christianity”, especially evangelicalism, needs to be redefined. It is not about doctrines but living a new way of life of love. It’s also why we need to rethink “church.” Church announces its doctrines and puts gates up if you don’t accept them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my take on what can be done in the book, Craft Brewed Jesus: How History We Never Knew Taps a Spirituality We Really Need. http://www.michaelcampbooks.com/craft-brewed-jesus/


  22. “But how do you get to know Christ? Doctrines!”

    not everyone agrees, thank goodness

    ” The Convert
    By G. K. Chesterton
    After one moment when I bowed my head
    And the whole world turned over and came upright,
    And I came out where the old road shone white.
    I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
    Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
    Being not unlovable but strange and light;
    Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
    But softly, as men smile about the dead

    The sages have a hundred maps to give
    That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
    They rattle reason out through many a sieve
    That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
    And all these things are less than dust to me
    Because my name is Lazarus and I live.”
    (G.K. Chesterton)

    ” “I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity;
    I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”
    (Anne Lamott)


  23. Christiane, thanks for posting the poem by C.K. Chesterton and the quote by Ann Lamont. I looked ‘hypostatic’ up in the dictionary. I need for someone to explain what it means as an adjective describing ‘unity of the trinity’.


  24. Hello Cindy Brunson,
    ‘hypostatic’ is a term used by the Orthodox Christians (and Catholic also, I believe) and I’m not able to define for you very clearly in the context of Anne Lamott’s quote, I’m sorry . . . . but there was a young man who blogged at The Wartburg Watch named Ken F. who was knowledgeable about hypostatic union and something called ‘perichoresis’. The early Church fathers did write about ‘hypostatic’ union also. Ken F. would know how to help you over at TWW. It’s a complicated doctrine, yes.


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